Many years ago, the mass circulation Reader’s Digest had a feature titled "Humor in These United States." As The Mises Institute's Hunter Lewis rightfully scoffs, the following would have qualified for inclusion...
Greg Mankiw, author of a leading economic textbook, former Chair of Bush to Council of Economic Advisers, member of the Romney inner circle, widely praised for his decency as a human being, writes a New York Times op ed suggesting that President Trump needs to listen to professional economists...
Judging by those with whom Mr. Trump chooses to surround himself, it seems that the new president is averse to talking with professional economists. But over time, he will probably get around to appointing the three members of his Council of Economic Advisers, as is required by law.
As Lewis notes, Mankiw starts with an anecdote about how Trump is alleged to have asked his then national security advisor, General Flynn, if a strong dollar is good or bad and was told by Flynn that he needed to consult a professional economist.
At the end of the article, Mankiw says "Oh, and about the dollar." Guess what he then says about a strong versus a weak dollar? He says that it depends, that it benefits some and hurts others, and leaves it there. He doesn't even bother to define what a strong or weak dollar is. How helpful!
No wonder President Truman said that he was looking for a one-armed economist (who would not be able to keep saying: one the one hand, on the other hand).
Why should President Trump or anybody seek out this kind of advice? Does Mankiw himself not perceive the irony of such an answer for the question he has posed?
Is it time to give up on economics or economists? No.
The problem here is not with economists.
The problem, says Lewis, is with Keynesian economists like Mankiw who still totally dominate leading universities and policy circles.
We think so... and so does Nassim Taleb, who summed up Mankiw's article in one simple word...
Nothing. https://t.co/Nzl7VfGbP0— NassimNicholasTaleb (@nntaleb) March 12, 2017
As a side-note, Mankiw points out the declining productivity (and stagnant wage growth) of the American worker as a problem Trump will struggle to fix. As one witty commenter notes, perhaps what is called for is a total retooling of the 40,000 Keynesian economists who hold down non-productive jobs in government administration... As they say with drowning lawyers - it's a start.